As a double-life poet, you have to find ways to keep yourself creatively inspired. It is so easy to let work and the rest of your life crowd the poetry out. Last week, I traveled to Chicago for a non-literary conference. Although two of my work colleagues were there, we attended different sessions and kept our own company afterward. My first day in the city, I took an architectural boat tour with one colleague and her daughter. Afterwards, I found a place to eat outside. I was dutifully chceking Facebook when I heard this shuffling sound. I looked up to see the guard and watched as he made his way around the block. I didn’t think to take a picture, but I did manage to jot down this poem:
The sound of the shuffle precedes
His overhang belly with shirt
buttons stressed, but holding
his uniform blue in tact as the slow
waddle of his patrol rounds
the corner of Michigan Ave.
My time at the Adler Planetarium also stuck with me. I’ve always been fascinated by the ideas of galaxies and universes far beyond this one. And I’m sure reading Tracy K. Smith’s Life on Mars re-ignited my interest in the planets and stars. After watching the planetarium show, The Searcher, I stuck around to ask the guy behind the booth about supernova. His explanation and the exhibit on the topic provided the details needed for this poem:
You were a red giant star
eons beyond your white-yellow hot,
destined to expand into oblivion.
I refused to let you go, kept orbiting
around you, drawing your energy
to fill myself like a helium
balloon—tethered to the whim
of your finger—swirling past
my limit to our beautiful
demise, this spectacular disaster.
And finally the explanation of dark matter next to the supernova display led me to this poem:
A Different Kind of Matter Altogether
Dark matter doesn’t
interact with light.
It is too dominate,
too heavy, too much.
This is Universal Law–
the lesson I forgot
to learn because
I was too busy
trying to be
like everyone else.